Happy Birthday Mabes!

As a new bride I brought no domestic skills into my marriage. I was worthless!

My husband did not care as he was adept at so many things many of which he learned from his incredible mother Mabes.

Plus, he had learned to take care of himself thanks to the Army and living on his own.

Perfect Mabes

Hearing stories of how Mabes rewired a lamp, fixed a leaky faucet, changed a flat tire, and made her couture clothing herself left me breathless.

I was very young and my skills were reading, listening to music and generally being worthless in comparison to Mabes.

In my defense, I could make a bed with tight ends thanks to my Brownie days. I may still have the badge!

She shot the moose whose head was mounted above the fireplace at the family cabin. She drove a snowmobile.

She did not plow the “north 40” but she could have if necessary.

My husband described her as someone who could do anything, change the filters, unclog the sink, etc., and still at the end of the day look like a lady.

She had impeccable manners and a great sense of style. She wore beautiful clothes and was at home in any social situation.

Terrified Bride

I was intimidated by Mabes.  I tried to “be seen and not heard”.

She was a formidable and a no-nonsense kind of woman. Her home and her appearance rivalled the best of those TV moms.

She vacuumed the dining room twice a day. Heaven forbid that a crumb should lay more than fifteen minutes on the floor!

Everything from pillowcases to cotton underwear was ironed. She had a mangle that ironed her clothes and linens beautifully.

She showered and changed into beautiful attire before her husband came home. They enjoyed a cocktail before dinner.

There were no servants but Mabes’ home was immaculate and well-ordered.

I met her as she was divorcing her husband of 30 years.

It was her choice and a brave undertaking for someone who had spent those 30 years as a housewife.

She had put her education on hold to put her husband through medical school.

This is how she won my heart.

It was during a trip when I stayed at her house without my husband and kids. We had a long talk during which I cried and she listened.

I was overwhelmed with the whole schtick…motherhood, marriage, career, “having it all”!

As I was turning off the light on my bedside table, she knocked and opened my door. I have never forgotten her words.

“Let me tell you something that took me years to learn. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do!”

With that, she closed the door and I settled down to sleep.

Once again, she knocked on the door, stuck her head in and said,

“Here’s another thing. If that son of mine gives you a hard time, just tell him to go to hell!”


I was shocked to hear her talk so strongly and even to include her only son in her comments.

But, over the years, I realized that we had more in common than the same last name.

We shared a bond as women trying to do it right for our families, our community and for ourselves if there was time or energy left.

We never spoke of this interaction but her words helped me find clarity and strength then and now.

Thank you Mabes. I love you and miss you!

Happy Birthday!

21 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Mabes!

  1. Fabulous post!  A keeper and one to share, for sure! Sharon

    From: Lori Greer in Portland To: sussiebren@yahoo.com Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2017 12:41 PM Subject: [New post] Happy Birthday Mabes! #yiv4458408186 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4458408186 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4458408186 a.yiv4458408186primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4458408186 a.yiv4458408186primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4458408186 a.yiv4458408186primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4458408186 a.yiv4458408186primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4458408186 WordPress.com | lorigreer posted: “As a new bride I brought no domestic skills into my marriage. I was worthless!My husband did not care as he was adept at so many things many of which he learned from his incredible mother Mabes.Plus, he had learned to take care of himself thanks t” | |

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would have liked your mother-in-law. Memories of my own wonderful Mum-in-law came back. I was terrified when she came to Australia to live. She sounded always so British, quiet and productive. She was able to make all sorts of curtains and ‘things’…..I was not particularly fond of sewing. She also was reported to be an ‘excellent cook’. We had an instant ‘rapport’. She had been worried about me. ‘My son told me such a lot of ‘amazing’ things’. We met and to our delight discovered that we were both very ordinary women. I think perhaps our redeeming qualities were the fact that we both loved our husbands and our children and wanted to ‘do the best’ we could for them. In that we both excelled despite disasters of different kinds in both the culinary and sewing areas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lori, I just loved this, it gave me gooseflesh. It is so encouraging to hear that inside the very capable Mabes, the impeccably dedicated wife and keeper of an immaculate home, was someone with a warm heart who was not a slave driver – she cared about how you lived your life and that you enjoyed it. I wish I could make this post into a poster! I can’t say exactly why, but it brings a sense of relief. You were a lucky daughter-in-law. I am too…..I really am. My mother-in-law is not Mabes, but she is very kind and very supportive.
    love Jeanne ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jeanne, Thank you for your warm response. It is great when we have a good relationship with our mothers in law. I am glad that you have a good relationship with yours. It makes life so much easier and very rewarding. I hope to pass the experience on to my daughters-in-law. In doing so, I have a great role model in Mabes. You made my day! Hugs, Lori

      Liked by 1 person

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